McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 10, 2012

Some McAlester businesses still not accessible for those with disabilities

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER —  

Accessibility issues for Pittsburg County residents with disabilities are being addressed in some areas of the county but in McAlester there is still work to be done, according to Pam Pulchney of Oklahomans for Independent Living in McAlester.
She said the Town of Kiowa recently began work to make its town hall accessible and construction has already began on a new ramp.
“They are pouring the cement today,” Pulchney said last week.  Pulchney told Kiowa’s board of Trustees earlier this year that they were not in compliance and could face a lawsuit if changes weren’t made. 
Pulchney said within the City of McAlester there are still some businesses that disabled people cannot access. HiWay Inn and Suites at 419 South George Nigh Expressway’s lobby is not accessible, according to Pulchney. “There is a 6 inch step in front of the lobby,” Pulchney said. And although most of the hotel rooms are at ground level, she said the hotel lobby is not accessible and a person in a wheel chair could not independently enter the building.
HiWay Inn and Suites Hotel Manager Victoria McKing said she was aware that the building is not accessible.
 “Usually (the disabled person) waits in the car and someone will come in and check in for them,” McKing said. “Or if they can let us know, we will come out to the car and help them.” 
She said there are plans to eventually make the building accessible but not “right away.”
Adelitas Mexican Restaurant in Tandy Town and Giacomo’s Italian Restaurant are also not accessible, according to Steve Strickland a disabled McAlester resident.
“I just don’t go to those places,” he said.
Pulchney said that when businesses don’t allow the disabled to enter their buildings, it not only hurts the person and their families who cannot patronize those facilities but it also keeps businesses from receiving dollars spent by these consumers.
“These people have expendable income and they want to spend their money at these places and are unable to do so.”
Meanwhile, Pulchney said the Town of Kiowa has been very cooperative and is working hard allow disabled people access to the town hall.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.